Saturday, February 19, 2011
What Do Open Theism And 5 Point Calvinism Have In Common?
Both miss the point of divine revelation.
Why did God give us the Bible? Was it so that we could parse our way through His divine mind and recreate an image of Him that makes sense to us?
In my interactions with strict 5 pointers and open theists in the past, I have always left the conversation amazed at how much the other person thought they comprehended about God.
Though Scripture is certainly adequate to lead us into right living and doctrine, it doesn’t propose to explain everything there is to be known about God. I have come to see God as a Father and myself as a child. When God speaks to me, it is always in a way that limits Him(so that I can understand). Certainly God reveals himself to us (His Word, the Holy Spirit, etc.) but it is always partial…it has to be. Our problem is that we think we are more capable than we really are. We perceive ourselves as composing an “earth shaking” treatise on theology, while God sees a child’s crayon drawing of stick figures with no clothes. I’m not saying that God isn’t proud of our efforts. In fact, I’m sure he puts every one of our drawings on His fridge. The problem is that they always, at least in part, miss the point. Did God reveal His purpose in “election” so that I could concoct the doctrine of reprobation, or rather that I could be comforted by the surety of our relationship? Did God say that He “changed” his mind, so that I could develop a theology that limits His sovereignty (or redefines it), or so I would understand that there is a real-time dynamic aspect to my faith. In my opinion, neither view takes adequately into account the limitations of human reason, the mystery of certain doctrines in Scripture, and the beauty of God’s multi-angular interaction with humanity.
Neither answers the problem of evil.
In my interactions with open theist particularly, there is a sense that the problem of evil is better answered by asserting that God didn’t know that certain evils were going to happen. From the beginning, I have been confused by this point. Typically it goes something like this: “Shirley, a single mother of two, was struck and killed in a drunk driving accident." When the question gets asked: “Why didn’t God stop this from happening?” One can simply respond: “God didn’t know that was going to happen.” While this sounds good in the moment, it doesn’t answer the question for two reasons.
God could have intervened in the moment.
Why didn’t God intervene while it was happening? Surely He saw the drunk person getting into their car. Surely He saw the car approaching Shirley . Why, then, didn’t He stop this tragedy from coming to pass?
God could have raised Shirley from the dead.
We all know Scripture references where God reverses the effects of death (I Kings 17, Luke 8, John 11). Why didn’t He raise Shirley?
An open theist would have to answer this question just like the rest of us, so what then is the benefit of Open Theism for answering the questions of Theodicy? In my opinion…none. At some level we all need to live out the tension of human free-will and divine providence. I don’t think God gave us the equipment to take it any farther. What we know is that God lets people experience the consequences of their choices, and that He remains (a good) God in the midst of it. We know that we never need to fear, and that no power or love is greater than God’s. A right view of God is never tension free, and will always require faith and faithfulness. God is God and we are not. As a seminarian, I always need to be reminded of this one.
These are my thoughts…what are yours? Feel free to push back.